Some of my faithful readers think we liberals are backwards anyway, so let's start the Madville Times year in review series with the traditional year in preview. Every year, I prepare a wishlist of the stories I'd love to blog in the coming year. So here are my Top Ten South Dakota Blog Stories for 2015:

1. Wessington Springs, SD, October 16, 2015: Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Kurt Evans reported over $212,000 in campaign funds raised during the third quarter. The former Libertarian attributes his fundraising success so far to starting early, engaging voters online, and seeking common ground with Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans. Evans spoke at a press conference in Wessington Springs with former Senator Larry Pressler, who announced the inclusion of Evans in a growing crop of candidates whom the Centrist Project will support in the 2016 election. "Like me, Evans has conservative principles," said Pressler, "but he has shown the commitment to practical solutions that the Centrist Project says America wants."

2. Pierre, SD, November 30, 2015: Secretary of State Shantel Krebs today certified petitions for eight initiated measures. The 2016 statewide ballot will include measures to cap interest rates, expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, implement a corporate income tax, increase teacher pay, and place the Governor's Future Fund under the direct control of a new non-partisan board. "As Secretary of State, I am always happy to see citizens actively participating in government," said an exhausted Krebs, whose office put hundreds of overtime hours subjecting the petitions to an unprecedented level of scrutiny. An outraged Governor Dennis Daugaard vowed to back legislation to quintuple the signature requirements for ballot measures and to require all initiative organizers to pay for fiscal analyses of their proposals prior to circulation of petitions.

3. Pierre, SD, March 5, 2015: Education groups reacted with cautious optimism to passage today of HB 1235, which repeals the all state-mandated standards and testing in South Dakota's public K-12 schools. "It's time for us in Pierre to get out of our schools' way and trust our professional teachers to do what they do best," said HB 1235 Senate sponsor Betty Olson (R-29/Prairie City). "This bill will liberate local districts to innovate and educate," said ASBSD exec Wade Pogany. "Now if we can just keep anyone from getting hurt in the big Common Core binder bonfires."

4. Sioux Falls, SD, December 31, 2015: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson put to rest months of speculation and announced that they will campaign for the Democratic nominations in 2016. Herseth Sandlin will run for Senate; Johnson will run for House. "I'm ready to bring common sense and practical problem-solving back to Washington," said Herseth Sandlin told Todd Epp in a joint appearance with Johnson on KSOO's Viewpoint University. "We couldn't wait any longer," said Johnson. "We heard that if we didn't get in the race, Kevin Weiland and Cory Heidelberger were going to run, and that would have been a liberal train wreck!"

5. Washington, DC, September 30, 2015: Senator Rick Knobe announced he is caucusing with Democrats. "The Republicans here can't get their act together," said Knobe. "It was the Democrats and Independents who offered a practical spending bill and built the coalition to keep the government working. If being Republican means making government fail, I can't be a Republican." Knobe is the fourth Republican this year to defect, bringing the Senate to a 50-50 balance. Knobe was appointed to the Senate on July 24 by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard following the indictment and resignation of Mike Rounds.

6. Rapid City, SD, July 2, 2015: Gasoline prices are swinging upward this holiday weekend. Prices at the pump are topping $2.40 a gallon after six months at or below $2.25 around the Black Hills. "We thought the cancellation of Keystone XL and the slowdown in Bakken production would cause prices to rebound," said AAA spokeswoman Marilyn Buskohl, "but demand keeps going down as Americans drive more efficient vehicles."

7. Scotland, SD, December 12, 2015: The South Dakota Democratic Party has reported a 15% increase in registered voters over the past year. SDDP voter registration czar Frank Kloucek says the party has registered over 30,000 new Democratic voters since January 1. "The party needed some hustle in this area," said SDDP vice-chair Joe Lowe, "and Frank's record of success in retail politics made him the right man to lead this effort." Democratic registration cracked 200,000 last month for the first time since 2009.

8. Mitchell, SD, July 8, 2015: South Dakota Progress met in Mitchell today for a mid-year progress assessment. SDP chair Katrina Wilke said the group's first foray into local candidate recruitment was a success. "As a trial run, we recruited four candidates for local school board elections and two for city elections this spring," said Wilke. "Five of those candidates faced opponents; all five won!" SDP members agreed to expand operations. Their meeting was disrupted briefly when police had to remove two local citizens, one who kept shouting, "Free Annette!" and another who chanted "New Age Theocracy!"

9. Rapid City, SD, April 24, 2015: Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn will celebrate their first wedding anniversary as a legally wedded couple in South Dakota. Last month, Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of the Rosenbrahns and five other South Dakota couples who sued to overturn South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage. Thursday, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced the state will not appeal the decision. "We have bigger fish to fry," said Jackley, who was on his way to pre-trial hearings in his office's prosecution of EB-5 kingpin Joop Bollen.

10. Grand Junction, CO, April 2, 2015: Colorado State Police tracked down and arrested fugitives Annette Bosworth and Chad Haber in an RV parked near a creek south of Grand Junction yesterday. Bosworth and Haber moved to Colorado in January to set up a clinic in Boulder to sell marijuana. The couple disappeared in February after Bosworth failed to appear in a South Dakota courtroom to face perjury charges related to her unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2014. Bosworth and Haber face charges of failing to pay workers and state taxes at their Boulder clinic, as well as FEC and IRS investigations for misuse of campaign and non-profit funds.

Feel free to add to the wishlist, readers! If these stories do break, you'll hear about them in great detail here on the Madville Times. Happy new year!


Pat Powers presents the perfect Christmas card from South Dakota's next Senator, M. Michael Rounds:

Mike Rounds Christmas card, December 2014, posted by Dakota War College.

Mike Rounds Christmas card, December 2014, posted by Dakota War College.

A shady snow job: Mike Rounds and the South Dakota Republican Party to a T.


O, that we might fly back to 1960s South Dakota, when gentle chirpy music played behind our pheasant hunts and stag parties at the Plains Motel.

South Dakota Tourism tweets this splendid promotional video, Pheasantland USA, produced in the 1960s by South Dakota Game Fish & Parks, the University of South Dakota, and the Conservation Department of Winchester-Western.

At 1:10, a couple of guys hop out their airplane, ready to hunt in their coonskin caps. The narrator says they've flown a thousand miles just to shoot a "wild chicken."

At 3:45, our state scriptsmiths craft the compelling narrative of young Tim, "taking his place in the company of MEN." Wise old Els hands Tim a booklet on hunting and tells him to pay close attention to the section on gun safety to get ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a long time away when you're fifteen and waiting to go on your first pheasant hunt. This isn't just another rabbit hunt. This is a real bird hunt, a man's game played by men's rules. What's going to happen? Will we see pheasants? Will I get a chance to shoot? And will I be able to hit one of those roosters? If I can get a bird or two, what will Dad say? Well, Tim, we'll see. you never know what's going to happen out pheasant hunting [SDGF&P, Pheasantland USA, promotional video, circa 1960s].

The finest French cinematography comes at 6:10, the morning of the big hunt, as the camera opens from the night and lingers on a single frying egg, clearly a symbol of Tim's youthful existential isolation, as well as a subtle homage to the sustaining feminine id.

At 7:45, the film offers a conservation lesson that Governor Daugaard needed eight meetings and workgroup to figure out: pheasants need cover. The film attests to the farmer's conservation mission and the need to keep grassland for nesting cover and shelterbelts for winter habitat. "You don't get something for nothing," says the narrator, "and you can't raise game without cover" [9:20]. A bit later, the film turns a fine phrase, saying that if we "protect[] a few places from the cow, the plow, and the match" [12:22] we'll have pheasant hunting in the fall.

From there on, the film is mostly hunting wisdom and joy. After the "first action of the day" at 11:40, MEN sit on the ground by the tailgate of their International pickup truck and make white-bread sandwiches of ring bologna and longhorn cheese sliced by their own knives in the field. Never do men live as well as at this moment.

Around 16:00, the men deploy in a cornfield, with the dog crew driving the birds through the golden rows toward the stealthy blockers out by the fence. "It doesn't make much difference if the birds know that the drivers are there, but the presence of blockers should be a military secret."

And at 17:23, we get the sign Lee Schoenbeck has on his new desk in Pierre: "Those two retrievers can be the equal of several men."

This film is mirthfully dated, yet entirely up to date. This fifty-year-old film is exactly the reel playing in every South Dakotan's mind as we head out to the field to blast our state bird.

Related Viewing: Compare that 1960s entry with this amped-up, slo-mo rock-themed 30-second spot on South Dakota pheasant hunting:

As thanks to the country that sent us the wily pheasant, here's an official South Dakota Tourism video promoting our fair state... with Chinese subtitles.


Maybe Dennis Daugaard is right: getting a liberal arts degree dooms graduates to crappy jobs... in the Daugaard Administration.

A friend of the blog sifted through public records for information about the educational background of various officials in South Dakota state government. The analysis found a dangerously high number of suspicious characters who studied liberal artsy fields instead of good, solid, breadwinning technical subjects like welding. Among these nefarious scholars of the humanities:

First Name Last Name Title Initial Degree Major
Dennis Daugaard Governor Government
Tony Venhuizen Chief of Staff History
Political Science
Kim Malsam-Rysdon Senior Advisor Political Science
Nathan Sanderson Director of Policy & Operations Agriculture Education
Jim Seward General Counsel Political Science
Jim Soyer Legislative Director English Education
Laura Ringling Policy Analyst English
Kelsey Pritchard Assistant Director of Communications Politics
Grace Kessler Director of Constituent Services Politics
Jim Hagen Tourism Political Science
Melody Schopp Education Elementary Education
Doneen Hollingsworth Health Political Science

An English major analyzing policy! Education majors advising (who'd'a thunk that?)! Political scientists, veritable Aristotles, running Health and Tourism! Is that all the opportunity their liberal arts studies could get these poor souls?

Let that be a lesson to all your Girls Staters as you consider your careers in welding.


Hey, that's my neighbor Charlie Johnson on the YouTube!

Actually, it's an ad from the Organic Farmers' Agency for Relationship Marketing. But it's also a great nutshell explanation of the Organic farming philosophy Charlie inherited from his dad Bernard: "What goes on this land has to go on our tongue first." (I invite you to take up with Charlie what that means about his use of manure as fertilizer.)


The Democratic Forum of Sioux Falls (which sponsors this blog—thank you, friends!) hosts what could be a newsworthy program this Friday. Zach Crago, executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, will deliver what I believe will be his first extended public remarks since the midterm election. Crago will discuss the recent election and, according to the Democratic Forum, "what the party needs to do to plan for the future."

Democratic Forum is open to the public, and speakers generally do big Q&A, so let's warm up some questions for Crago! Here are the top five that jump to my mind:

  1. What current SDDP projects are working and should continue?
  2. Closely related to #1: What metrics indicate those projects are working?
  3. How much money does the SDDP need to raise to be competitive with the SDGOP?
  4. What does the SDDP do to overcome disillusionment among donors and reach that competitive level?
  5. How long can we keep you as party exec?

Meanwhile, here are the top five things you won't hear Crago say on Friday:

  1. I'm quitting the SDDP and joining the Libertarians to help them capitalize on their role as South Dakota's true opposition party.
  2. Ssshhhh... we're luring the Republicans into overconfidence.
  3. I'll be bringing a proposal to the State Central Committee at its December 13 meeting to amend the SDDP constitution to choose all nominees for statewide office via online polls on the Madville Times.
  4. Now that South Dakota voters have declared that EB-5 is not a political liability, the South Dakota Democratic Party will raise $140 million by forming its own Regional Center to compete with the state in recruiting and managing EB-5 investments. (Hey, wait a minute—that's not a bad idea!)
  5. And now presenting our next Democratic Party chairman, Larry Pressler!

You can hear what Zach Crago really has to say and pitch your own questions about the future of the South Dakota Democratic Party Friday noon, November 21, at the Sioux Falls VFW, 3601 South Minnesota Ave.

At least he won't go hungry... (Lee Schoenbeck and friends, from Schoenbeck Twitter feed, 2014.11.14)

At least he won't go hungry... (Lee Schoenbeck and friends, from Schoenbeck Twitter feed, 2014.11.14)

Not only did the 2014 election deprive us the pleasure of testing Lee Schoenbeck's commitment to disenfranchising District 3 and RV voters, but the legislative caucus has deprived us the pleasure of Lee Schoenbeck's leadership. Despite months of machinating by Watertown's imminently Rotunda-revisiting Representative-Elect, GOP House members and members-elect picked Rep. Steve Westra of Sioux Falls as their assistant majority leader.

Rep.-Elect Schoenbeck has graced these blog pages for years with numerous intelligent, kind, and/or provocative comments. Rep. Westra has yet to contribute any thoughts to our rollicking civic discussion. One can only conclude that Schoenbeck possesses an intellect far superior to Westra's and that the SDGOP has passed up an opportunity to boost its collective IQ and Blog-Q.

We can only hope Schoenbeck will emerge smiling from this defeat and use the extra time left in his hands by his colleagues to post more blog comments... and maybe call some more Republicans S.O.B.'s who have it coming.


The Governor's Office of Economic Development and Madison's Lake Area Improvement Corporation score another coup, bringing Iowa sexy bra manufacturer Best Darn Guns (should a company really force us to swear?) to town:

Best Damn Guns website,, screen cap, 2014.11.13

Best Damn Guns website,, screen cap, 2014.11.13

In a brilliant example of vertical (or is it horizontal, or cross-your-heart?) integration, the LAIC announces it is also bringing the closely associated Wilt Manufacturing, whose subsidiary Wilt Wire and Fabrication does something with Wire EDM, which is obviously connected to the the supporting industry of making underwires.

Or not. Once I get past the crass and gratuitous disembodiment and oversexualization of the female body, I realize Best Darn Guns makes gun parts. But their advertising makes clear the real psychology behind South Dakota's gun nuttery. Carrying guns and now building local economic development makes us real men and gets us action.

Welcome to South Dakota, Best Darn Guns and Wilt Manufacturing! We look forward to your billboards.


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